Sphamandla Mtshali – who spent a 20 months in jail for housebreaking and robbery and was then told that the charges had been dropped – is to receive R1m in damages.

A Pretoria News report says Mtshali initially instituted a claim of more than R2m against the Police Minister and the NDPP in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria). He claimed he had been unlawfully arrested and assaulted by the police, and that he had contracted TB in jail while awaiting trial. He later withdrew the second claim.

But Judge Wendy Hughes turned down all his claims, except that there was a delay in proceeding with his trial after he had been refused bail.

It emerged that the state had decided in October 2010 not to proceed with the case against Mtshali. Its decision was recorded on his case docket on the same day, yet his trial was postponed to the end of February 2012. It was only then that Mtshali was told that he was free to go.

In the damages claim, Hughes concluded that he had failed to prove the assault. She also turned down his claim for unlawful arrest, as she said the police had reason to suspect that he was involved in the housebreaking and that they were within their rights to arrest him.

In awarding him the R1m in damages, the judge took into consideration expert reports that Mtshali was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder symptoms after his experience.

Full Pretoria News report